From the beginning, Christians have been persecuted for having faith in Jesus Christ. Today, Open Doors estimated that over 215 million are facing high levels of persecution. Jesus himself tells us, ‘If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also’ – John 15:20. So the oppression against Christians is no surprise to Jesus but every slight, injustice and cruelty against you matters to him: ‘Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven’ – Matthew 5:11-12.
Sadly, persecution is everywhere and is here to stay until the Lord Jesus returns – it may be subtle or flagrant but it is very real.
‘Christians are being persecuted, not just in the Middle East but here in this country’ – Wendy Long (American Attorney).
The temptation to yield and deny Christ is also real but here’s a warning for us from him: ‘But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven’ (Matthew 10:33). James writes of trials of many kinds that prove who we are through perseverance and builds maturity: ‘When is constancy required, except under persecution. Are not friends then proved? If they always yield, how can they ever succeed? They must, one time or other, make a stand’’ – Thomas Becket
Here’s something to strengthen you in making the stand:
‘But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed’’ (2 Corinthians 4:7-9).
Treasure is laid up in heaven for those who cherish the treasure within, even when the jar of clay feels very fragile. ‘Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal’’ – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Here’s the thing – we must have the right perspective. If you have the eternal perspective, then you can face anything in the grace of God as you fix your eyes on him rather than the temporary matters at hand.
We can and should pray for tolerance and peace. ‘Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others’ – John F Kennedy
So if you feel a small fragile piece of clay, remember that you are made in the image of God and he watches over you. You may be persecuted but not abandoned - you carry a treasure in that jar of clay that is priceless so therefore do not lose heart as you fix your eyes on the eternal future.
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